I dunno, I neglect my blog and crafting for a while then suddenly you get loads of posts in one week, you lucky lot. The joys of a four day weekend!
I must admit I haven’t been feeling it on the ol’ creative front recently. A combination of too much work and studying, and the relentless drudgery of house work and child care. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle really, I don’t make stuff for a while, I start to feel really unmotivated and emotionally a bit flat, then I just can’t get back into it, and spend days looking at my supplies and sighing because I can’t thing of anything to make. So last week I just decided to pick up a needle and thread and start sewing, well, embroidering actually.
It’s not my forte but I do enjoy it and you don’t have to spend a lot of time to create something quite pretty. I wanted something cheering in this dreary weather and was inspired by a kids temporary tattoo that a friend’s daughter gave me a few weeks ago which was a little sparkly rainbow. A colleague at work spotted it and was surprised as she thought it was real and didn’t realise I had one! It did make me think that maybe I’d quite like to get an actual tattoo. But unless they are going to let me have gas and air in order to have it done it is highly unlikely to ever happen. I’ll stick with needles that don’t actually pierce your flesh (unless you aren’t paying attention).
So here is a happy little rainbow to brighten up a grim day. Expect more where this comes from.
Recently I have been having somewhat of a career crisis. My job is fairly respectable, but I just don’t love it. I like the idea of it more than I like doing it. It is actually the job I wanted to do before I left university, but the reality wasn’t quite all it is cracked up to be. I was always very career oriented and felt like I was destined for big things. Having children tempered that somewhat, but the biggest factor has been a loss of confidence in my abilities. I did really well at school and university. I’ve got a Masters degree you know, and I got a distinction. I don’t get to say that very often, much though I often want to when at work I am having to grapple with a task like trying to get 10 people in a meeting together.
I studied psychology at university, but by the end decided I didn’t want to be a psychologist. After 5 years I didn’t to want to spend any longer at university or in training, I wanted to be getting on with my career. Hmmm. That worked well didn’t it? It turns out actually maybe I do want to be a psychologist. Or a writer. Or a professional crafter. Therein lies my problem. I want to do so many things, I’m afraid to commit.
A few years ago I found a fantastic book in a charity shop. It was pure fate that I found this book, someone had obviously given it away because they didn’t rate it but for me it was like a window into my soul. One man’s trash and all that. The book was What Do I Do When I Want to Do Everything? The basic premise of the book is that some people just flit from one activity to another, never sticking long enough to go deep; never really feeling like they have achieved anything. The author, Barbara Sher, calls these people ‘scanners’, and lists several different reasons why these people behave like this such as fear of commitment, looking for their niche, or simply just a need for novelty. Scanners are sometimes derided as dilettantes (hello, have you seen the name of my blog?) but often they are their own harshest critics, feeling like they are failing or not achieving anything. To read this was amazing, the book described me to a tee and Barbara goes to great lengths to reassure scanners that they way they are is perfectly normal, and can be harnessed. One of the suggestions is to try and combine your passions which is what I have attempted to do.
I mentioned that I might actually want to be a psychologist. Well I am considering doing another MSc, this time in Occupational Psychology. I could do it part time and through distance learning, but even so, with two young children and a job I couldn’t do it for at least another year. I also want to give myself time to figure out whether it is what I really want to do.
In the meantime I am spending my time crafting (God, that is such a wanky word, I cringe every time I use it!). But much as I love making stuff, I don’t find it intellectually stimulating. Now before all you other crafters lynch me, I’m not saying its not difficult, there are some amazingly talented people out there. Crafting can be technically and physically challenging, but trying to understand a pattern isn’t the same as trying to understand why someone behaves in a certain way. So I’ve tried to put some psychology into my crafting, I’m combining my passions to create Psychraftology. Craftology. Psychcraftisvism. Psychocraft. I can work on the name.
I have three items to showcase for you as part of my new genre. The first is based on the Myers-Briggs Trait Inventory, or the MBTI. You may have heard or it and even taken it. The results come in the format of 4 letters, E or I, N or S, T or F, and J or P. If want more info about what these letters mean check out this website. The MBTI is a licensed test which can only be administered by licensed practitioners, but this website has an example if you want to find out you personality type. For the even keener reader I recommend the book Please Understand Me II, which is slightly different from the MBTI but maps directly onto it. For the record I am an ENFP, which incidentally is quite commons for scanners.
These are going to be badges, but for now they are just buttons. They are cross stitched MBTI types so you can wear your type with pride! The are cross stitched on 22 count aida which is used to cover self-cover buttons. You can remove the button bit, which I have done, and super glue a badge backing onto the button, which I haven’t done yet.
Exhibit number two my cross stitched interpretation of a Rorschach ink blot. “Why?” you might ask. Well, why the hell not.
The Rorschach ink blot is traditional projection test used to assess personality characteristics and emotional function. Tell me what you see in mine and I will tell you if you are crazy or not.
The piece de resistance in my show and tell today is an embroidered diagram of the brain, showing labelled lobes and some well known areas of the brain. Broca’s area is involved in the production of speech, and Wenicke’s area in the understanding of it. The visual cortex is where we start to process the images that come from our retinas. They travel along the optic nerves to the back of our brain, the parietal lobe. The brain is a marvellous thing, and we should nurture it, look after it, and not take it for granted. There is an excellent documentary on BBC iPlayer about the brain. It’s available for about another week so watch it while you can.
For me, this embroidery is about using a craft that is more often used to depict twee little birds and flowers and fluffy things, and creating something with a little more depth. If you like this you might also like a brain colouring book. It certainly helped while away those hours studying neuropsychology at university.
So, these are the projects that I have been working on for the past couple of months. I’d really appreciate any comments you have. You are probably going to see more and more psychology related stuff, not just crafting, on here. Does that put you off? The main thrust of this blog has been crafting, and it is certainly easier to market a niche blog. I’m debating whether I should branch out into a new blog, but as someone pointed out, the USP for my blog has always been about doing lots of different things. Any comments will be welcomed.
Got back yesterday from another weekend with faaaamily. This time it was way up north to a party celebrating my dad’s wedding. The packing and the journey went amazingly well. DH and I had not a cross word to say to each other. The kids were really well behaved. Betty often gets car sick and is not allowed books or toys to play with. We’ve also resisted the lure of a DVD babysitter for fear that it would exacerbate the car sickness. What we’ve opted for is a really cheap and cheerful cd Walkman and a case full of talking books (and a near constant supply of batteries!), which seems to keep her amused pretty well. We just hear the occasional giggle or singing along to a song from Fantastic Mr Fox.
Anyway, the weekend was lovely. My dad didn’t want a present seeing as it was his third wedding, plus DH was doing photographs for them. But I didn’t want to go empty handed and wanted to make something. After a bit of google image searching I came across something I liked the look of. Now I’m not entirely sure of the etiquette when it comes to, um, being inspired by someone else’s work. Part of my being a dilettante is being able to be inspired by other people’s ideas but not great a coming up with my own. I’m like those people who forge Old Masters. Well, you know, obviously a lot less talented! If these forgers can meticulously reproduce these wonderful works of art does that make them artists too?
Unlike the forgers I’m not selling my copy just giving it as a gift. Hopefully if I link to the original the crafter will be flattered at my imitation and will appreciated the traffic in return. And you will all see that hers is far superior.
I was discreetly trying to finish it right up until the last minute. Then after I’d wrapped it I had to unwrap it so that DH could take a photo! I used a lovely silky linen remnant that I got from from eBay (though it looks a bit weird in the photo). I printed out the words using a font that I liked so that I could trace it on to the fabric. I wasn’t the size I wanted though, so I ended up doing it free hand. I traced it onto the fabric using a kind of carbon tracing paper. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d use it again. It was quite hard to use, wasn’t very fine. And when I inevitably deviated from the pattern it left a smudgy mark which was difficult to remove. I need to investigate better ways of marking a pattern if I am going to keep going with embroidery.
I think they liked it. I deliberately left it for them to open after I had gone as I was worried they’d think it was a bit wanky rather than kitch like I was going for. I’ve had enough master pieces presented to me by my daughter to know the plastered on smile and I didn’t want to see it. They text me on the way home to say they would treasure it. I wonder if it is ‘treasure it in a special box’ type treasure it or whether they’ll actually hang it up…
Leaving embroidery in the hoop is the technique du jour from what I can see in my limited journeys into the craft world. Some other examples I love are this large hoop from Ballpoint+Pen.
I have a new little (very little!) thing I made to show you but I am waiting for DH to take photos for me. He is a photographer, as well as a library assistant and a stay at home dad (he announced he doesn’t like that term though, says it sounds like someone who sits around on their backside all day – any suggestions for a suitable descriptor are welcome!). He is setting up a business as a photographer, and trying to get his self-designed and self-built website up in between having a job, looking after the kids etc. It’s a slow process, but it’s going to be great when it’s up. I’m telling you this because I want to make sure he gets credit for all the good pictures. The crap ones were taken by me, generally on my iPhone. You’ll see the difference when I post some of his.
So, in the absence of anything to show you I’m going to show you the books I am currently lusting after.
Yarn Bombing by Mandy Moore is a book celebrating ‘Yarn Graffiti’, adding knit or crochet improvements to everyday outdoors objects. I really want to start doing this sort of thing, but not sure how to go about it. I’m hoping that when I can justify getting the book it will give tips on how to get started, as well as offering patterns. In the meantime Streetcolour’s Blog has some great examples.
The next book on my wish list is Scandinavian Needlecraft by Clare Youngs. I know nothing about embroidery or any sort of decorative needlecraft. I dabbled in a bit of tapestry and cross stitch as young teenager, but I thought I’d give it a go recently and I really quite liked it. I love the Scandinavian style in this book and am desperate to get my hand on it, mainly just to stroke it and wish the things in it were in my house.